Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Upton I 4
Periods of Development/psychological theories: A. critical periods: A critical period is a specific time during development when a particular event has its greatest impact. In developmental psychology, a critical period for development usually implies that certain environmental stimuli are necessary for typical development to occur. John Bowlby (1951)(1), for example, suggested that, if children did not receive the right kind of care in the first two years of life, their emotional development would be adversely affected. According to Bowlby, between six months and two years of age is a critical period for relationship formation.
VsBowlby: Better understanding of the >plasticity and >resilience of human nature has led to a reassessment of this idea. Most developmentalists now agree that, rather than suffering permanent damage from a lack of stimuli during early periods of development, it is more likely that people can use later experiences to help them overcome deficits. It is now more common to talk about ‘sensitive’ rather than ‘critical’ periods.
B. Sensitive periods: In a sensitive period we may be more susceptible to particular stimuli; however, the absence of those stimuli does not always result in irreversible damage. >Stability/Developmental psychology.



1. Bowlby, J. (1951). Maternal Care and Mental Health. Geneva: World Health Organization.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Psychological Theories
Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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